Cardiac and peripheral catheterizations are considered invasive procedures and there can be some risk involved. Please ask your doctor to discuss the risks and benefits so that you are fully informed. Also be certain to tell us if you are allergic to X-ray contrast or shellfish, and if you are taking aspirin, Coumadin or blood thinners. Prior to your exam, you may need to complete several routine tests, including blood tests, a chest X-ray, electrocardiogram and complete medical history and physical. Generally you may have nothing to eat or drink six to eight hours before your catheterization procedure. Talk with your doctor about taking medications the day of the procedure. If you take insulin, please get specific instructions from your physician.
The digital imaging system in the cardiovascular catheterization laboratory provides detailed views of the heart and surrounding blood vessels while minimizing radiation exposure. This advance technology gives cardiologists the optimum amount of information, enabling procedures to be performed more efficiently and with less risk for patients.
When you arrive for your procedure, go directly to the registration area at the center. In most cases you will go home later that same day, unless there are unforeseen complications or you are already a patient in the hospital. You will most likely be awake but drowsy during the catheterization procedure, which usually takes less than an hour.
Your procedure will take place in a specially equipped cardiovascular catheterization lab. It begins with an injection of a local anesthesia so a small tube, or sheath, can be inserted into the artery in your arm or leg without pain, though you may feel a little pressure. You will lie on a special table and the doctor will insert a thin, flexible tube, called a catheter, through the sheath into the artery. The catheter is passed toward your heart or other blood vessels. As this is performed, the doctors, nurses and technicians check the TV monitors to follow the catheter’s movement. Contrast will be injected through the catheter. Contrast helps the doctor to pinpoint problems within your arteries. You may feel a warm sensation or flushing, which will quickly subside. You may be asked to take a deep breath and hold it while the technician takes an X-ray image.
When the procedure is finished, the catheter and sheath will be removed and pressure will be applied to the insertion site to prevent bleeding. You will remain lying down for a few hours and asked not to move your leg. You will also need to drink fluids to flush the contrast out of your system. During this time, your doctor will return to explain your results. The nurses will check the site frequently to make sure there is no bleeding. A sealing device, to seal off the puncture in the artery, may be used. This will facilitate early ambulation and discharge from the hospital.
You may have a small bruise or lump the size of an olive under the skin at the insertion site. This should go away in a few weeks. Make arrangements to have a friend or family member drive you home. Avoid heavy lifting, and do only light activities for a few days.
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